Originally Posted by Angela
I think you're right, that it is often used to dismiss or deal with one's ignorance. Sometimes, though, it's an evaluation of a choice that lacks intelligence -- that is, one that works powerfully against one's conscious intentions, even if there is secondary gain in it. That's what I mean by stupid.
I have no doubt that smokers have reasons for smoking -- very compelling reasons that make tons of sense to them, and also very compelling ones that don't make so much (conscious) sense to them. I'm not confounded by the choice to smoke or the reasons -- I understand why someone would make that choice.
In the same way, I understand how someone could have a brain fart, or be on mind-altering substances, or be distracted, and hand their baby a book full of matches to play with. There is a kind of "sense" to every decision, even ones I find stupid. Knowing what that sense is (they were on drugs, they were thinking about their other kid in the hospital on life support, whatever) doesn't make the choice any less stupid, in my view, if one values the life of one's child. More understandable, maybe, but no less stupid.
(p.s... sorry for taking your figure of speech so literally when you didn't mean for it to be -- you also took my joke very literally!
I think the use of the word "stupid" is a poor choice for what you are making it mean. I disagree with you that intelligence factors into the choice of smoking. Some of the brightest, most intelligent people in the world smoke/have smoked. And using the word "stupid" for such choices does carry the implication of a lack of intelligence for making such a choice.
I'm not sure what a better word would be for what you are describing, but I simply disagree that intelligence plays any kind of a factor into the decision to smoke.